Letters for the week of March 2-8, 2005 

Joan Baez wouldn't spit on a cop; Alameda cinema maverick deserves a hug; and your 'sneakerhead' article brought me out of the shoe closet.

"It's Not Our Fault," Feature, 2/16

Alameda rocks
In your article, you stated that all of Alameda was built on fill. This is incorrect. See the USGS liquefaction map link below. You can easily see where the fill is and where the bedrock is: Quake.WR.usgs.gov

Lauryn Stanton, Alameda

"Roller Derby," Film, 2/2

Say it ain't so, Joan
I have followed the career of Joan Baez -- in some detail -- for many years. I find your description of her as someone willing to spit at a policeman totally incongruous with what I know of her. Perhaps you should give Joan the opportunity to respond to this accusation.
Anthony DeFazio, New York

"Don't buy the whitewashing," Letters, 2/23

Finding humanity in an unlikely place
H.B. Halverson's letter this week regarding the documentary film The Thursday Club raised some concerns about its portrayal of Oakland police officers during the Vietnam War era. Halverson seemed disappointed that the film did not reinforce the views he had walking into the theater -- that all Oakland police were waging a vicious, racist war against Oakland citizens during that period. The film's director, George Csicsery, who was himself the victim of a police clubbing at an antiwar demonstration, made the film without that kind of opening assumption, to his credit. Certainly there was brutal, racist behavior on the force, and the retired cops he interviewed for the film were first to recognize it. Some of the retirees were African American, some were concerned their own kids would be arrested by brutal cops, and none of them pretended to understand why the country was fighting a war in Southeast Asia. Almost all the cops interviewed were WWII vets who were basically working-class. They had grown up in the Depression and, ironically, saw police work as a relatively safe career (compared to farming or storming Iwo Jima, anyway).

Halverson would do well to remember that a good documentary does not pretend to tell the Only Truth. A film like The Thursday Club can present its subjects' versions of the truth, and viewers, if they are willing to listen, may gain some greater appreciation of other points of view. These guys don't have to be liars for the war to have been wrong. So the film does not tell the story Halverson would like to hear. Instead, it suggests that history is a lot more complicated than one person's version of it, and that it is possible to find humanity in some pretty unlikely places. I learned a lot about who those cops were, and what that volatile period meant to them. I knew more coming out than I did going in.
Richard Griffoul, communications director, Oakland Museum of California

"Show a Film, Go to Jail," Cityside, 2/9

Serve the residents
Surely Alameda city officials can find far bigger dangers to combat on behalf of the quality of life of their constituents than a maverick theater operator. If this whole issue were some sort of film about to premiere to the viewing public, one could be inclined to hear the following: "An act that sparked a tremendous overreaction on the scale of the federal government to medical marijuana or the FCC to the specter of low-power radio stations such as Free Radio Berkeley!"

As to the possible connection between Alameda officials' treatment of Haskett and the plan to revitalize the Alameda Theater, quite frankly, most places would LOVE to have more than one theater, and, from what's been said, so would most Alameda residents.

Alameda's civic leaders should be hugging, not hounding, Mark Haskett for his effort to fulfill a long-neglected need for that city's movie aficionados. If there are some legalities to be dealt with, they'd be better off working in engagement with Haskett to meet these concerns. Who knows; they might find that Haskett's little operation may well be an enhancement rather than a threat to their efforts to revitalize the Alameda Theater.
Garrett Murphy, Oakland

"Sneakerhead," Feature, 2/9

Sneakerhead uncloseted
Thanks for a great article, so informative to me that I just found out I am a closet sneakerhead. I'm 55 years old, and growing up, raised by my mother with three other kids, it was a miracle to get more than one pair of any shoes per school year. Since I have never grown up, as they say, I now love the overpriced smell of plastic/leather that comes with a new pair of Jordans.

Oh, by the way: I only own 64 pairs.
Tony Ollison, San Leandro

We all have our addictions
I was really fascinated by your article on the shoeheads. It's crazy to me to think that some kids will go to such lengths to own a pair of sneakers, especially Nike. But I guess we all have our addictions, right? I totally relate too, 'cause I also have an addiction as a collector that sometimes consumes my life. I'm up every day looking for that elusive piece of vinyl. As a DJ, I buy and collect hip-hop records; hip-hop records that are rare and very limited. Promo-only 12" singles, LPs, limited indie pressings, exclusive Japan releases, etc. It's a daily grind that can be pretty costly. Some records that I've been trying to track down can cost as much as $400 apiece. I love collecting, though, and I wouldn't trade it for anything.
Al Patterson, Alameda

Hope you got some shoes
I just finished reading your story, and I must say it was a great read. I too am a sneakerhead, and writing for Sole Collector magazine has become a dream come true. I hope you enjoyed your experience, and I also hope that you got a pair of the Jordans too. Nevertheless, I just wanted to check in and let you know how I appreciated your work.
Anthony "AG" Gilbert, Philadelphia

Last week's Bottom Feeder ("Union Blues") misidentified IATSE as the International Alliance of Technical Stage Employees. It should have been the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.

Our January 26 On Food article ("Two Scoops Rice, Two Scoops Mac") misspelled the first name of co-owner Linda Cortez.


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